Starting off the year (and decade), the best way I know how: with a little bliss. Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars that is!
These chewy blondies have hints of ginger and orange essence, are speckled with white chocolate and tart dried cranberries, and are topped with a sweet cream cheese frosting. The perfect veganized Starbucks copycat recipe so you can now recreate their Cranberry Bliss Bar at home and without dairy or eggs. Easy to make anytime of the year, no one will guess these decadent cookie bars are vegan!
I used to look forward to the Starbucks fall menu, a time when they’d start slinging their seasonal Cranberry Bliss Bars. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss occasionally indulging in those iconic cookie bars now that I’ve chosen not to eat animal products. The solution: I decided to make my own veganized version of the festive treat and enjoy them any time of the year! I’d go as far as to say my homemade vegan cranberry bliss bars are even better than the original Starbucks bars not just because they’re so darn good, but they are much cheaper and you get a whole pan of them to share (or not)!
How to Make Cranberry Bliss Bars
These vegan cookie bars are easy to make:
- Beat the liquid ingredients together
- Sift and whisk the dry ingredients
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
- Stir in the dried cranberries, white chocolate and crystallized ginger
- Bake and then cool the blondies
- Whip the ingredients for the frosting
- Stir together the ingredients for the drizzle
- Frost the cookie bars, scatter extra dried cranberries on top and drizzle!
Tips for Making Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars
Don’t use margarine or vegan butter from a tub for either the bliss bars or the frosting – use the stuff wrapped foil or paper, and is sometimes referred to as baking sticks. Tub style usually contains more water than stick vegan butter, and sometimes has more air whipped into it – both of these differences will effect the texture and quality of the bliss bars.
Mix the chopped candied ginger, white chocolate and dried cranberries together in a small bowl before mixing them into the batter. This helps prevent the ginger from sticking to itself, and ensures that these add-ins are dispersed evenly through the blondies.
Take the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter out of the fridge so they are at room temperature before making the frosting. When they’ve softened, they blend together more easily, so you end up with a smooth, fluffy frosting without lumps.
Use a vegan cream cheese that you really like the flavor of. This might sound a bit like a no brainer, but if you haven’t experimented with vegan cream cheeses before, you might be surprised about how much they vary in flavor and texture between brands.
For the bliss bar drizzle, use refined coconut oil to avoid having a coconut flavor. If you don’t have refined coconut oil, you can use non-hydrogenated shortening.
If you make these Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars, please give it a rating in the recipe card or let me know in the comments! Follow along on Instagram where you can tag me in your creations using my recipes. You can also follow me on Pinterest for vegan recipe inspiration and on Facebook. Thank you for reading along!
Vegan Cranberry Bliss Bars
For the Bars:
- ¾ cup vegan butter, softened (sticks, not tub style), softened
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar, packed
- 3 tbsp plant-based milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp orange extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup vegan white chocolate chips (or chopped bars)
- ⅔ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup crystallized/candied ginger, finely chopped
For the Frosting:
- ½ cup vegan cream cheese, brought to room temperature
- ¼ cup vegan butter, sticks, not tub style, brought to room temperature
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Icing Drizzle:
- 2 tsp refined coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp plant-based milk
- ½ tsp orange extract
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
For the Bars:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9×13” cake baking pan with parchment paper.
- Beat the softened vegan butter and brown sugar together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the plant-based milk, vanilla and orange extracts.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, ground ginger and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients, mixing just until blended.
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped ginger, dried cranberries and white chocolate . Add to the dough and mix with a spoon. Spread evenly into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes until lightly golden brown at the edges. Don't over-bake or the bars so they remain chewy. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:
- Beat vegan cream cheese and vegan butter until smooth with a balloon whisk in a stand-mixer, or a medium bowl with an electric mixer. Sift in the powdered sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add 1/2 tsp orange extract and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and mix well.
For the Drizzle:
- In a small bowl, melt the refined coconut oil. Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, plant-based milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. If it’s too thick to drizzle, add another teaspoon of plant-based milk.
- Spread the cooled bars evenly with frosting. Sprinkle the bars with chopped dried cranberries. Using a fork or small spoon, drizzle the icing over the top to create streaks in different directions.
- For best results results, chill the bars before cutting for cleaner slices. Cut into triangles.
- For dessert size: cut in thirds width-wise and into quarters lengthwise (the long side.) Cut each square diagonally in half for 24 triangles. If you would prefer smaller snack sizes, cut each triangle in half diagonally for 48 cookie bars. The nutrition information below is an estimate based on dessert serving size.